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Urging immigration reform
Interfaith leaders join rallies to support workers status, pathway to citizenship


Eloy Reyes
Thousands in Chicago massed in front of the Mexican consulate across the street from Epiphany Episcopal Church, where marchers found hospitality, water and a place to rest.   (Eloy Reyes)
Thousands of immigrants, their families and advocates staged rallies around the nation in April in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Interfaith leaders were among those urging reform of the U.S. immigration system that would allow a substantial increase in the number of workers into the United States and offer a pathway to legal status for an estimated 11 million people who live here without legal status.

In Washington, D.C., members of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries and Suffragan Bishop David Jones of the Diocese of Virginia attended the rally. Jones offered a statement in support of comprehensive immigration reform, expressing opposition to a proposed restrictive House of Representatives bill, which would prosecute illegal immigrants and those who help them.

EMM director Richard Parkins said the national outpouring of support for reform in the immigration system should spur positive action by the Senate when Congress returns from recess.

The church’s government office was instrumental in alerting Episcopalians nationally to pro-immigrant rights rallies in more than 100 cities. Reflecting upon the massive endorsement for reform, Molly Keane, a church legislative analyst, said that she felt encouraged that Congress might heed this call for making the immigration system more just.

The church office urged Episcopalians to contact their senators to affirm their endorsement of legislation modifying the immigration system to bring more workers to the country legally and to allow those now here illegally to move toward permanent residence and eventual citizenship.

“We finally have a chance to reform our unjust immigration system,” Parkins said. “This is an urgent matter to which our collective advocacy must be directed during the coming two weeks.”